Prediction is a central skill in human life. As our environment is constantly changing, both as a consequence of our actions and independently of us, it’s necessary to anticipate when and where future events will happen, in order to be able to synchronize our actions with them and to proficiently interact with the world. The study of interception abilities represents a good option to investigate this topic, as interception is a quite common task and, at the same time, it strongly requires anticipation skills.
Methods and apparatus of the experiments on prediction: A) The visual stimulus, i.e. a virtual target moving on a screen. B) Purely visual task schema and response box used by subjects to answer. C) Interception task schema and motion tracking cameras (Optotrak system) used to record index finger motion.
In our experiments a ball disappears behind an occlusion after following parabolic paths. Subjects should either select where the ball would arrive after the occlusion (only vision involved) or directly intercept the virtual target by pointing on it with their index finger (vision plus motor involvement). This way it is possible to understand whether the goal of a predictive effort affects how prediction is performed and if an internal model of target motion is built and exploited in prediction.